Leopard dies in accident: Are highways new death traps for wildcats in Telangana?

Activists say that vehicular speed on highways must be controlled to prevent wildlife fatalities.
Leopard dies in accident: Are highways new death traps for wildcats in Telangana?
Leopard dies in accident: Are highways new death traps for wildcats in Telangana?
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A leopard was killed in a road accident on the country's longest national highway 44 in Telangana's Indalwai of Nizamabad district. It is reported to be the fourth such incident in the Nizamabad district.

The leopard was run over on Friday afternoon. On learning of the incident, forest officials shifted the dead leopard to the local veterinary clinic hospital for a post-mortem.

Nizamabad Forest Divisional Officer (FDO) Venu Babu told TNM that leopard suffered severe injuries to its lungs, limbs and head, resulting in death.

"The leopard seems to be between 3-3.5 years old. The postmortem report is awaited," he said.

According to officials, a recent census has found that there were around 55 leopards in the Nizamabad-Kamareddy area.  The Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary, spread across 130 sq km in Medak and undiveded Nizamabad districts is known for a wide variety of wildlife.

However, recently there has been a rise in the number of man-animal conflicts.

On January 8, a leopard died while crossing a railway track near Sirnapally of Indalwai range. Despite officials taking the wildcat to Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad for treatment, the leopard succumbed to its injuries.

According to officials, out of 55 leopards in the Nizamabad -Kamareddy forest divisions area, around 15 could belong to the Indalwai range. Venu Babu claimed that out of 150 saucer and solar pits in the Nizamabad forest division, Indalwai range had as many as 25. 

In February, a leopard was fatally hit along the Basar - Nizamabad highway.

While one leopard died due to ill health near Ekkapally of Lingampet mandal in March, another leopard killed two calves in Kondapur of adjourning Medak district.

V Mahesh Kumar, an animal conservation activist based in Nizamabad demanded that certain areas be declared animal sensitive zones, and vehicular speed be controlled. Mahesh said, "The highway vehicular speed has become a curse to wildlife, the government must construct underpasses, bridges in such dense forests, so that animals can pass around safely."

However, officials told TNM that they're making arrangements to install caution boards which show the speed limit across highway road in the forest area along with setting up CCTVs at accident prone areas.

Meanwhile, Friday’s leopard death has brought to light the wildcats’ behaviour.

The leopard, which met with an accident in Indalwai forests was reportedly found with bruises and scratches on its body. Officials say that the leopard may have had a clash with another, hours before it met the accident.

The FDO explained, "Scratches and bruises on the deceased could be because of a confrontation with other leopards. They get into clashes either for territory or food and sometimes they will also get into fights to protect their mating partners. They demarcate the area with urinal or saliva, when other leopards cross into their territory, they will get into clashes."


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